Nightly News   |  March 29, 2013

Heavenly ratings for Bible-based series

The History Channel’s miniseries ‘The Bible’ is only one of several programs inspired by the holy scripture including upcoming movies ‘Gods and Kings,’ ‘Exodus,’ and even an animated musical. NBC’s Chris Jansing reports.

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>>> as we head into easter weekend , it's pretty clear what millions of people will be doing sunday night, settling in to watch the finale of "the bible " which has pulled in 10 million viewers a night so far. this isn't the first time the good book has made for good entertainment. and hollywood is rushing in to produce even more. our report from nbc's chris jansing .

>> lord!

>> reporter: from the parting of the red sea to the baptism of jesus --

>> what are we going to do?

>> change the world .

>> reporter: -- "the bible " ratings has been inspirational. its stunning success setting off a cinematic stampede with bib lickally-based movies rushing into production.

>> the bible is hot when you've got studios and networks clamoring for more bible stories , i don't think we've seen anything like this since hollywood 's golden age .

>> reporter: oscar-winning director ang li is in talks for one of two moses biopics. the second may star christian bale of "batman" fame and be directed by ridley scott . he was at the helm for "gladiator" starring russell crowe now lplaying the lead in the upcoming "noah." and an animated arc story is setting sail from the director of " kung fu panda ." of course, biblical inspiration is nothing new in the arts. here at the metropolitan museum of art , pieces date back to the third and fourth centuries. but experts say that bible -based movies and tv shows are undergoing a renaissance.

>> behold!

>> reporter: a popular later not seen since 1966 's "the ten commandments" and "the passion of christ" since 2004 , two of the most financially successful movies ever made. meantime, "the american bible challenge" is the highest rated program on the game show network .

>> everybody knows their bible here.

>> reporter: and the faithful are taking to twitter. the handsome actor who plays christ in the mini-series is trending under #hotjesus.

>>> neighbors have been hosting viewing parties complete with study guides, boosting viewership.

>> i think it's just great. the bible is being spoken of by millions and millions and millions.

>> reporter: and with an estimated 88% of americans owning a copy of the good book --

>> i will be with you.

>> reporter: -- hollywood has faith in an audience for bible stories . chris jansing , nbc news, new